The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
Every week the Stereogum staff chooses the five best new songs of the week. The eligibility period begins and ends Thursdays right before midnight. You can hear this week’s picks below and on Stereogum’s Favorite New Music Spotify playlist, which is updated weekly. (An expanded playlist of our new music picks is available to members on Spotify and Apple Music, updated throughout the week.)
Note: The 5 Best Songs Of The Week was on hiatus over the holidays, so this list contains songs from the past three weeks.
Fireworks - "I Want To Start A Religion With You"
Setting aside the recent dispiriting circumstances surrounding the band, when that old Arcade Fire sound hits, it hits hard. Few bands have ever wielded it more effectively than Fireworks do throughout Higher Lonely Power, a somberly anthemic blog-rock album from the ghost of a pop-punk band. The record is fueled by religious disenchantment and malaise, yet so many of its songs leave me giddy, most of all the one that gets things properly going after the raging 90-second prologue. “I force it every day,” Dave Mackinder laments, conjuring a familiar sensation for anyone who’s found themselves going through the motions in search of some spiritual breakthrough. “We fucking sucked at talking,” he recalls, looking back on the also-familiar sensation of fumbling through young romance. The jumble of hope and despair and love and longing in “I Want To Start A Religion With You” is embodied by a sweeping current of sound, music that conveys all the heaviness of the subject matter yet surges forward with unstoppable momentum. And as couplets go, it doesn’t get much more morbidly funny than “Just for oncе, make some time for mе/ Jesus died at 33.” —Chris
MIKE - "Swoosh 23"
Beat selection is key to rap excellence, and the wistful, cascading jazz piano loop from dj blackpower here is so entrancing that it almost works as a cheat code for MIKE. The swelling horns and strings in between add up to smoky ambiance, and the drum programming evokes the bustle of the city street outside. “Swoosh 23” is one of many tracks on December’s Beware Of The Monkey where MIKE’s vocal exists within an orderly hubbub, each line a gem to be mined out from within the gorgeous noise. Here, after playing back a loving voicemail from his sister, he reflects on his own success in a melancholy stream of consciousness, his beaming pride tinted (but not overcome) by loss and regret. Abstract underground rap like this doesn’t really jibe with expressions as emphatic as Marv Albert shouting “YES!” after a basketball player nails a three-pointer. But if your brain is on MIKE’s wavelength, such a balance of the vague and the vivid elicits a similarly joyous response. —Chris
End It - "Familia Finito"
Did you ever spend so long playing Super Smash Bros. that your brain entered into some kind of cartoon-violence fugue state? Like, where you became Kirby, and the world only made sense when you were transforming into a weight and falling on motherfuckers to crush them? Or hitting motherfuckers with a great big hammer? Or eating motherfuckers and then absorbing their costumes and movesets? Where you only existed in the flow of the game and just came to see yourself as an avatar for insane psychedelic ass-kickery? This song is like that. —Tom
H.C. McEntire - "Rows Of Clover"
Lyrically, H.C. McEntire has pointed to a contrast between the raw outpouring of the chorus — the first thing she wrote for new album Every Acre — and her more measured, poetic observations in the verses. But even more than the beautiful insights McEntire wrings from the loss of a pet, what stands out about “Rows Of Clover” is the music. The arrangement builds and breaks like waves piling up in the ocean, expanding from the foundational piano chords into a sultry Southern rock groove, never losing its focus or momentum even as it ventures off into bluesy reverie. By the time the guitar solo is smokily wafting skyward and the music begins to drift toward the horizon, it feels like the kind of song that could yield classic performances night after night. Be you a taper or merely someone who appreciates an impassioned jam, make it a point to be there when the former Mount Moriah frontwoman rolls through your town. —Chris
Mount Eerie - "Huge Fire"
Phil Elverum has spent the last few years, understandably, making music shrouded by grief and lovesickness. “Huge Fire,” a new Mount Eerie track that dropped on a 20th anniversary compilation for Tokyo’s 7e.p. Records, was accompanied by a photo of Elverum letting off a goofy smile. It’s not exactly a beacon of positivity, but “Huge Fire” is getting there — a little less wistfully contemplative and a little more noisy and discordant, traveling back to a thick bass line that keeps up throughout and suggests forward momentum. “Nothing but me and all this shredded wood I’ve been pulling into a heap of flames and smoke, this is my life,” he sings. By the end of the song, the fire is still there, but it’s at his back — “Three days of heavy rain and there’s still coals” — but “Huge Fire” sounds like it’s burning into a sense of renewal. —James